Which States Have the Lowest Cost of Living for Renters

Is one of your goals this year to finally get your budget under control? You have plenty of company. After all, that’s one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions!

One way you can achieve your goal is to start with a plan for budgeting for your first apartment. Another cost-cutting hack is to move to a state with a lower cost of living! That way, you can get more bang for your buck — kind of like giving yourself a raise. Go, you!

The Cost of Living Across the U.S.

What is “cost of living?” It’s a measure used to compare cities and states based on affordability. Cost of living uses the aggregate price of typical living expenses to see how expensive (or inexpensive) it is to live in one location versus another. Generally, the living expenses used to calculate a city or state’s cost of living include average housing values, utility rates, and grocery prices. 

The Cost of Living Index (COLI) ranks cities and states across the U.S. for their affordability. As of 2019, the ten urban areas with the lowest COLI were: 

  1. Harlingen, TX — 75.6
  2. McAllen, TX — 75.6
  3. Kalamazoo, MI — 77.7
  4. Muskogee, OK — 78.6
  5. Pittsburg, KS — 79.6
  6. Conway, AR — 80.4
  7. Knoxville, TN — 81.3
  8. Memphis, TN — 81.4
  9. Statesboro-Bulloch County, GA — 81.5
  10. Tupelo, MS — 81.5

To put those scores into perspective, the city with the highest COLI is New York City, with an index of 254.7, while the city with the lowest COLI is Harlingen, TX, with an index of 75.6. In other words, Harlingen, TX, is three times less expensive than New York City. And a move from NYC to the lesser-known HRL would allow you to maintain your standard of living at a third of the cost!

Those kinds of savings can make a huge difference in your life. It also proves that everything IS bigger in Texas — even your savings!

Making a Move Based on Cost of Living

If you’re wondering what the cheapest state to live in is, the data shows that Texas is in the running with two of the most affordable cities.

However, if Texas is not your jam, you can compare your preferred cities and states using Bankrate’s cost of living calculator. Once you decide which affordable city you want to live in, find an equally affordable apartment to move into!

Cost of Living by Region

The list of cities with the lowest cost of living includes urban areas in the Midwest, Southeast, and Southwest regions of the US. But what if you want to live in a northwestern state? 

If your heart’s set on westward expansion, this study from The Balance names Idaho as one of the most affordable states in that region. 

Are you dreaming of the Northeast? According to a study by World Population Review, Pennsylvania has the lowest cost of living out of the states in the Northeast. However, it’s still more expensive than many other states in different areas of the country. In fact, the entire Northeast region can be pretty pricey. So, if New England is calling out to you, prepare to pay up.

Lastly, if you’re craving some vitamin sea and want to live on one of the coasts — check out the best values in east coast cities or the top value spots for renters on the west coast

Move to a More Affordable Apartment

Ready to pack your bags and make a move to a state with cheaper rent? Find budget-friendly apartments wherever you go with ApartmentSearch.